Is it possible for an injury to make you a better athlete?
On December 23, 1998, Belinda Posluszny, 38, suffered a gruesome injury while skiboarding at Crested Butte, Colorado¿a spiral fracture of the upper femur, broken in four places. Ouch. Gloria Beim, the doctor who performed Posluszny's emergency surgery, said it was one of the worst fractures she'd ever seen.
Until her injury, Belinda had been living a dream, having relocated with her family from Chicago to Colorado four years earlier specifically to teach skiing. She was a PSIA Level 2 instructor intent on getting her Level 3 certification and was the second-most requested instructor in the Crested Butte ski school. And then suddenly she had four screws and a rod in her leg, was facing lengthy rehabilitation, and truly believed that she might never ski again.
Not only did Belinda ski again, but on April 21, 2000, she got her Level 3 certification. "I attribute coming back and being able to do what I did to Rolfing," she says.
The term "Rolfing" refers to a practice that looks to most folks like a form of deep-tissue massage. In reality, it's much more than that. Rolfing is a technique of structurally realigning the body's major segments¿head, shoulders, thorax, pelvis, and legs. This is accomplished by manipulating the connective tissue, or fascia, that envelopes all of the muscles in our bodies. Ida Rolf, the practice's now-deceased inventor, believed that over time, off-balance movement¿whether a result of compensating for an injury or just slouching in a chair¿causes fascia to scrunch up in certain areas and lengthen in others. The Rolfer moves the fascia back to a balanced distribution around the muscles, which in turn realigns the body itself. This is done through slow, intense massage movements, which are occasionally uncomfortable but not overly painful.
Jani Wedmore, certified Rolfer, immediately noticed what Belinda's injury had done to her body's alignment. "Her situation was very severe. It appeared as though her legs had become different lengths, when in actuality it was in the pelvis," she says. "From a fascial standpoint, it was a tightening of the injured leg."
Belinda was amazed with the results of her Rolfing sessions. "My flexibility, my balance, my gait, my overall body awareness, and my strength are all better than they were before I got injured," she says. "Because of Rolfing I became a better overall athlete. It's incredible to have gone through an injury and actually feel like you've gained more than you lost."
Beyond realigning the whole body, Rolfing also teaches better movement patterns¿key for balanced skiing. "In realigning the body, Rolfing takes you into full-body awareness," says Wedmore. "If you can find front-to-back balance on dry land, you can find it on a ski slope."
Rolfing is a systematic process of 10 one-hour sessions costing $75-$150 each. To find a Rolfer near you, call 800-530-8875 or check out www.rolf.org.